It was a busy week of mortarboards, balloons, flowers and celebration as Oakdale Joint Unified celebrated four graduations marking the successes of the Class of 2018.
The ceremonies kicked off Wednesday, May 23 with graduation acknowledgements of both Oakdale Charter School and East Stanislaus High, as well as Valley Oak Junior/Senior High. A total of 52 graduates were celebrated between the varying campuses.
“As you receive your diploma tonight, this diploma is symbolic as a special event in your life,” Superintendent of Schools Marc Malone stated to the Oakdale Charter graduating class, “but it cannot be the special event of your life or we’ve all missed the point.”
Malone went on to share the importance of the graduates going forward in their endeavors with a “growth mindset” and “grit” as the keys to success.
“We encourage you to teach, learn every day and not get into the habit of making excuses,” Malone said.
Two short nights later and following an early morning thunderstorm that battered the area with high winds, heavy rain and even some lightning strikes sparking a fire, family and friends packed the Mustang Corral in celebration of the 125th graduating class of Oakdale High School.
As the 313 graduates circled the stadium one last time as seniors, cheers, whistles and shouts could be heard from every corner. Once settled in the graduates and audience listened to several speeches given by their classmates. Each speaker noted the topic of legacy as the one they were challenged to explore for their speech topic.
“It is not secret that as a class we’ve accomplished some pretty amazing things over the past four years,” Senior Class President Grace Green said during her speech. “The big part of know where we’re going is know where we came from.”
The class president made note of the Book of Job and its description of a horse, likening it to the Mustang spirit, stating, “We will not shy away from our future endeavors. We will laugh at fear, because we are Mustangs.”
During her speech, Green invited a show of hands for past Mustangs from the audience. She pointed out that many may leave and not return, yet others will return and nurture their Mustangs just as has been done before them.
“Please never forget who you are or where you come from,” she said. “You are Oakdale. I am Oakdale. We are Oakdale.”
Demonstrating wisdom beyond her years, Green noted that it is not money or fame, but the quality of person and lives touched which is legacy worthy.
“Growing up in a town like ours, makes it easy to leave a legacy,” she continued. Salutatorian Russell Pabalan and Valedictorian Gabrielle Ceja concluded the speech portion of the program. They were followed by school principal Mike Moore declaring the class completion of state and district requirements for graduation to Superintendent Malone.
As customary, Superintendent Malone received the class stating, “You may award their diplomas.”
Once all the diplomas were presented, the Class of 2018 moved on from being Mustangs to the world at large, where their paths will take them on to colleges and universities, trade schools, the military and the workplace.